Day 35 – Forty Days with Thomas Merton

Day 35

It is not complicated to lead the spiritual life. But it is difficult. We are blind, and subject to a thousand illusions. We must expect to be making mistakes almost all the time. We must be content to fall repeatedly and to begin again to try to deny ourselves, for the love of God.

It is when we are angry at our own mistakes that we tend most of all to deny ourselves for love of ourselves. We want to shake off the hateful thing that has humbled us. In our rush to escape the humiliation of our own mistakes, we run head first into the opposite error, seeking comfort and compensation. And so we spend our lives running back and forth from one attachment to another.

If that is all our self-denial amounts to, our mistakes will never help us.

The thing to do when you have made a mistake is not to give up doing what you are doing and start something altogether new, but to start over again with the thing you began badly and try, for the love of God to do it well.

— Thomas Merton in Seeds edited by Robert Inchausti

Today: At one point in my life I received spiritual direction from the prioress of the community in which I belonged. She said to me, “Ed, it’s not your sin that keeps you from Jesus, it’s your goodness.” On another occasion ( I guess I didn’t get it the first time), “Your mistakes are your ticket to Jesus.” In his day, the Lord spoke of not coming for those who were well, but for the sick. When we confess our sins, not only is God faithful and just to forgive us our sins, but in his world, it’s where and how we grow. Consider practicing saying this today: “I was wrong;” it’s your ticket to Jesus.

+Ed Jansen, OSB

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